The battle for the 2012 Mother Lode League football championship begins tonight with a bunch of teams emerging from the first half of the season with championship resumes.

Three teams went 5-0 in non-league play, including reigning MLL champ Argonaut, and another, Calaveras, went 4-1. The Mustangs and Redskins are expected to both be in title contention when they hook up Oct. 26 in Jackson. Who else will be in the mix remains to be seen.

Below is a team-by-team breakdown of the MLL:

Amador Buffaloes

2012 record: 5-0

2011 MLL finish: 0-5, sixth place

Coach: Bill Baker

Game changers:

No. 8 Jacob Griffin (Sr.), QB/SS

No. 33 Justin Nichols (Sr.), RB/LB

Only one of Amador’s non-league opponents has more than one win this season so it’s hard to say if the Buffaloes are legitimate league title contenders, but there’s no denying their defense, which has two shutouts and handed Capital Christian its lone loss of the season. Capital had scored at least 34 points in its four previous wins, but was quieted by Amador in a 31-12 loss.

Argonaut Mustangs

2012 record: 5-0

2011 MLL finish: 5-0, first place

Coach: Rick Davis

Game changers:

No. 21 Colton Merriman (Sr.), RB/LB

No. 23 Ryan King (Sr.), RB/DB

No. 55 Raf Valasquez (Sr.), OL/DL

The Mustangs have looked like a team ready to defend the league championship right from the start, beating Colfax 28-21 on opening night and holding its final four opponents to 13 total points.

Nothing fancy or different coming from the Mustangs this year, but knowing what’s coming and being able to stop it are two different things.

Bret Harte Bullfrogs

2012 record: 1-4

2011 MLL finish: 2-3, Tied third place

Coach: Scott Edwards

Game changers:

No. 8 Chad Testa (Sr.), QB/DB

No. 25 Logan Lowe (So.), RB/LB

No. 55 Luke Brewer (Sr.), OL/DE

Testa has made nice strides through the first half of the season and has emerged as a dual-threat quarterback, leading the Bullfrogs with 341 rushing yards and 7 TDs. On the other side of the ball, Brewer has emerged as a fierce pass rusher. However, after a rough non-league season and with the overall depth of the MLL, Bullfrogs are looking like a longshot to make their first postseason since 2007.

Calaveras Redskins

2012 record: 4-1

2011 MLL finish: 4-1, fifth place

Coach: Jason Weatherby

Game changers:

No. 4 Zack Johnson (Sr.), QB

No. 34 Mike Seawell (Jr.), WR/DB

No. 84 Brian Golston (Sr.), TE/DE

Three teams enter MLL play with better non-league records, but none had a more challenging schedule than the Redskins. That schedule strength should have Calaveras prepared for the MLL grind, but it also left the Redskins banged up. The team’s skill position players have looked sharp, but a lack of size and depth on the line will be tested each week.

Linden Lions

2012 record: 2-3

2011 MLL finish: 2-3, Tied third place

Coach: Mark Miller

Game changers:

No. 21 Colton Merriman (Sr.), RB/LB

No. 21 Andrew Lewis (Sr.), RB/DB

No. 54 Daniel Titus (Sr.), OG/MLB

Lewis is one of the top runners in the MLL, averaging more than 100 rushing yards per game. He is also the Lions’ leading pass catcher this season, but Linden hasn’t been able to find another playmaker and MLL defensive coordinators are sure to make someone else try and beat them.

Summerville Bears

2012 record: 5-0

2011 MLL finish: 2-3, Tied third place

Coach: Ben Watson

Game changers:

No. 11 Jesse Roberson (Jr.), OG/MLB

No. 24 Dalton Day (Sr.), WR/DB

No. 27 Tanner Krieg (Sr.), RB/DE

Like Amador, the jury is out on Summerville based on a suspect schedule, but the Bears did show a flair for the dramatic in posting a 5-0 record, beating Bradshaw Christian and Hughson both by one point. The Bears are averaging more than 40 points per game this season.

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